Best places for whale watching in the US (2024)

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Glacier Bay, AK- Whales: Humpback, minke, orca, and blue whales

When to go: June to August

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Glacier Bay, AK- The whales stop here to revel in the nutrient-rich waters before heading to Hawaii and other places for the winter.

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Juneau, AK- Whales: Humpback and orcas

When to go: April to November

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Juneau, AK- Other animals you might want to keep an eye out for include bald eagles, seals, sea lions, and black bears.

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Kodiak Island, AK- Whales: Gray whales, fin, and humpback whales

When to go: April and June to November

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Kodiak Island, AK- Whales stop here to take advantage of Kodiak’s nutrient-rich waters to prepare for their foodless winter.

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Big Sur, CA- Whales: Blue, gray, and humpback whales

When to go: Year-round

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Big Sur, CA- Humpback whales can be seen from late April to early December, while gray whales can be seen from December toApril, and blue whales can be spotted from June to October.

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Monterey Bay, CA- Whales: Blue, gray, and humpback whales

When to go: Year-round

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Monterey Bay, CA- Different types of whales show up at different times in this area. April to December brings humpback and blue whales, while December to April brings the gray whales.

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San Diego, CA- Whales: Gray, blue, and fin whales

When to go: December to March and June to September

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San Diego, CA- If you go in the spring, you might catch a blue whale calf swimming along with their mother on the journey back north.

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Santa Barbara, CA- Whales: Gray, blue, minke, and humpback whales

When to go: February to early April and May to September

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Santa Barbara, CA- Whales enjoy the water temperature off the Californian coast to give birth to their calves.

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Jacksonville, FL- Whales: North Atlantic right whale

When to go: November to April

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Jacksonville, FL- Gray whales migrate 10,000 mi every year from the Arctic to Mexico, making this the longest migration of any animal. There are only about 400 of them left in the western North Atlantic Ocean, so consider yourself very lucky if you spot one.

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Maui, HI-

Whales: Humpback whales

When to go: December to April

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Maui, HI- About 3,000 whales mate here. Maui is also one of the few places you can hear them serenading potential mates.

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Cape Cod, MA- Whales: Minke, fin, and humpback whales

When to go: April to October

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Cape Cod, MA- Local companies claim a 99% whale-spotting success, and the World Wildlife Fund has named Massachusetts one of the top 10 whale watching spots in the world. So your chances of seeing these beautiful mammals are pretty good here.

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Bar Harbor, ME- Whales: Fin, minke, and right whales

When to go: Mid-April to October

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Bar Harbor, ME- After a meager winter, hungry whales come here to feast in the local waters, as they are rich in sand eels, copepods, plankton, and fish.

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Long Island, NY- Whales: Fin, humpback, minke, sperm, North Atlantic right, blue, and sei whales

When to go: July to early September

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Long Island, NY- A great variety of whales cross through here to take advantage of these nutrient-rich waters.

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Virginia Beach, VA- Whales: Humpback and fin whales

When to go: Decemberto March

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Virginia Beach, VA- Whales stop by Chesapeake Bayduring the winter on their wayup north.

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Depoe Bay, OR- Whales: Gray whales

When to go: Mid-December to June

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Depoe Bay, OR- About 20,000 whales migrate south between December and January each year. The same whales return north throughout different months, so your best chances of spotting a whale off the Oregon coast is in the winter.

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San Juan Islands, WA- Whales: Orcas

When to go: Mid-April to early-October

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San Juan Islands, WA-

San Juan’s largest island is called Orcas Island, so that’s your hint. You might also spot the occasional humpbacks, minkes, and even gray whales.

Source: (Local Adventurer)

See also: How whales help to combat climate change

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Best places for whale watching in the US (2024)


Is Maine or Massachusetts better for whale watching? ›

In fact, the World Wildlife Fund named Massachusetts one of the best places for whale watching in the world.

Where to see whales in the USA? ›

There are many places for such an opportunity; here are 12 of the best destinations in the US for whale watching:
  • San Juan Islands, Washington State. When to Go: Mid-April to Early-October. ...
  • Juneau, Alaska. ...
  • Maui, Hawaii. ...
  • Monterey, California. ...
  • San Diego, California. ...
  • Depoe Bay, Oregon. ...
  • Cape Cod, Massachusetts. ...
  • Bar Harbor, Maine.
Feb 16, 2024

What is the best month to go whale watching? ›

The peak season for blue whales in Southern California is from mid-June through mid-September, when they come to the coast to feed on krill. The best time to see them is typically from July through September.

What is the best month for whale watching in Massachusetts? ›

Prime whale-watching season in Boston lasts from May to October, when the whales migrate to the warm North Atlantic for the summer. You can sometimes see whales in March, April, and November too. 3 What is the best place to see whales in Boston?

What month is whale watching in Maine? ›

The whale watching season in Maine starts in May and winds down by October, perfectly coinciding with Under Canvas Acadia's season. Spring brings the first sightings as whales arrive to feast on abundant plankton and small fish.

What state is known for whales? ›

With over 840 miles of coastline adjacent to the Pacific ocean, California has more first-class whale watching destinations than anywhere else. California's waters are filled with all sorts of marine life, including about 20,000 gray whales that migrate between Mexico and Alaska every year.

Where is the whale watching capital of the United States? ›

About Dana Point, CA - The Whale Watching Capital of the World®!

Where is the best place to see orcas in the US? ›

The San Juan Islands off the coast of northwestern Washington are known for being one of the best places to see orcas in the wild. It's about a 90-minute drive from Seattle to Anacortes, then a short ferry ride across the sound to Friday Harbor, where many whale-watching outfitters leave on daily excursions.

Is it worth it to go whale watching? ›

You may see something you may never see anywhere else!

Is whale watching worth it in Southern California? You bet! Dana Point is home to some of the best whale watching in the world. There are more whale and dolphin species right here in our waters than anywhere else!

What are the odds of seeing a whale on a whale watching tour? ›

While we do not guarantee whale sightings on our tours, 20 years of sightings data shows that we do have a 90% chance of seeing whales during the peak months of June – September. As industry leaders, we are key members of a proprietary sightings network known as the Pacific Whale Watch Association.

Is it better to go whale watching in the morning or afternoon? ›

Early morning, typically around sunrise (between 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM), can be an excellent time for whale watching. The ocean is often calm, and there is less boat traffic, providing a tranquil environment. Moreover, marine life tends to be more active during these hours.

Do whales get close to cruise ships? ›

Sometimes, they'll come very close to the ship or its tenders. If the tail flukes pop up, offering you a superb photo opportunity, it means the whale is about to dive deep, hundreds of feet, and it may not reappear for an hour. Spotting a blue whale is a true privilege.

Where is the best place in the US to see blue whales? ›

The only place to see them is in the wild. And Dana Point, California, is one of the best places in the world to see blue whales. During the summer months there are more blue whales off our coast than anywhere else in the world. Blue whale watching in Southern California is typically May through October.

Where is the most common place to find whales? ›

10 of the best places in the world to spot whales and dolphins
  • Azores. Take a break from hiking on our Azores Island Hopping Walking Tour to go in search of whales and dolphins on a local boat trip. ...
  • Alaska. ...
  • South Africa. ...
  • Sri Lanka. ...
  • Madeira, Portugal. ...
  • Thailand. ...
  • Brazil. ...
  • Antarctica.

What part of Maine has the best whale watching? ›

The best places to whale watch in Maine are Bar Harbor, Boothbay Harbor, Kennebunkport and Casco Bay in Portland.

Do orcas go to Massachusetts? ›

CHATHAM - There was a rare killer whale sighting off Cape Cod, Massachusetts on Sunday. Paul van Steensel, owner of Cape Dreams Building & Design, said he was out fishing for tuna with some of his employees and family when they spotted the orca coming up for air about seven miles off Chatham.

Is whale watching worth it in Boston? ›

The views of the Boston Harbor and Boston skyline are priceless. We saw many humpback whales and a seal pup. There are passengers of all ages and the crew gives commentary as you cruise. And walking around the harbor area is also worth leaving extra time for.

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